The Muslim Literati

Musings of a Muslim Book Devourer

Relief — March 16, 2017

Relief

Enough talking.

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Not a Post About Spring — February 17, 2017

Not a Post About Spring

It’s difficult not to feel hopeful now when the days are longer and you can almost sense the tendrils of spring in the air. Even though, throughout the whole winter, you’ve been depressed over things that still aren’t happening (yes, that). Maybe… it’ll all work out? In shaa Allah.

And if it doesn’t, I’m still cool right? I still have some worth, I’m still needed, I still contribute to this world. Right? My value is not dependent on whether I can secure a husband or not, whether I can produce offspring or not. Right?

Sure yeah, as long as I discuss it among people who have common sense. Unfortunately, my culture lacks it, thus among family, relatives, and random aunties, I’ll always be somewhat less than my married counterparts. I’ve been advised to ignore them. But what difference is it going to make? Their judgment, their understanding of the woman, is imprinted in me and even I can’t escape it – even I judge myself. What is so fundamentally wrong with me that I’m never chosen? Why do I succeed in most other things, but fail in… being a woman?

The fact that blogging has become outdated works to my benefit, as few people will read this. These are the thoughts that go through my mind as I say that “everything is ok” and nod at everyone’s advice. They don’t know that this is what I think of myself. Because if they knew, they’d worry for me or feel sorry for me. And then I’d feel guilty for having negative thoughts.

If there’s any one thing I’m proud of, it’s how I can just hide all the sadness and anger when I’m with other people. The fact that I can just do what is asked of me, or support others, even though I’d rather just feel sorry for myself (that’s reserved for places like this). I know it’s slightly hypocritical, but it doesn’t really matter what I’m going through or what happens to me.

Even if you ask me after reading all this, I’m still not going to be able to share. I’m still just going to nod and agree with your advice. So I’m sorry I’m inconsolable, but at least I’m not burdening you about all the stuff I’m going through. If you’re reading this, know that I did not intend to burden you. I’d be happy if you just pretended as if you’ve never read it. After all, next time you see me, you won’t see a trace of any of this.

Homecoming: The Madinan Seerah — February 14, 2017
About the Other Day… — November 11, 2016

About the Other Day…

Yes, many Trump voters are racist. But now that he’s the president-elect, we need to change the way we’re talking about this – this illness that has gripped such a huge chunk of the Western population. It started a while ago in many European nations, with the rise of extreme right parties. And now that America has legitimized xenophobia, more European nations may follow. I’m not overlooking the racism when I say that many of these people truly are anti-establishment. At least that is what they believe themselves to be. Many of them claim to not be racist – sure, many of them also don’t know what racism actually is – but maybe… just maybe… not all of them hates our guts?

I need to give myself the benefit of the doubt, because otherwise the world doesn’t make sense. Also, it’s easier to reason with someone who’s merely anti-establishment than with someone who hates me for the way I look or the religion I follow. We should, to the extent we can, always think good of others. We cannot give in to hatred, that is not the way to overcome this divide.

We need to talk to these people, we need to understand them as well as present ourselves to them. They need to know us individually, and not as a hateful mob. Also, many of these people are under-educated. So let us educate them. Let us be better than them. We can’t depend on third-parties, especially not the media, to do this. We need to roll up our sleeves and take control of our own representation.

It’s difficult for me to truly feel the fear that so many Americans belonging to minority groups are feeling today, because I’m not an American. I’ve been privileged enough to live in a tolerant country. Sure, we also feel the strong winds of right-wing populism, we also have a xenophobic party in parliament, but as an individual I have yet to be subjected to any direct racial attack. Alhamdulillah. It might only be a matter of time though. Which is why even I have to engage in the American dialogue. This is the struggle of millions of people belonging to minorities, who have made their home in the West. We need to cure it where it is, so that it doesn’t spread to other places. The cancer is not the Trump voters, the cancer is the hatred. The hatred is fluid, and has been let loose. It’s not contained in any single vessel, not even in a body of vessels. I don’t believe it.

Yes, it’s all gone wrong. I can’t say “it’s going to be okay”, because it probably won’t be. But I can say what I believe, which is that we all have the strength to fight this. Let this be the day we start making history.

Snapchat — November 2, 2016
Update on My Search (Not the One You’re Thinking About Though) — November 1, 2016

Update on My Search (Not the One You’re Thinking About Though)

This week I have two interviews. One is today, in three hours to be more precise, and the other one is on Thursday. In shaa Allah I’ll find something soon. I’m not worried about that part of my life.

However, I still haven’t found a place. For those that don’t know, I’m looking for an apartment to rent for myself and my mom. We’re currently staying at my brother’s place (before that, the whole family lived in a big house – as the family grew, we had to separate), but mom and I need a home of our own. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the housing conditions in Stockholm; to find a first-hand rental contract in this city, you have to stand in a rental line for years… and when I say years, I mean like at least 10 years to have any realistic expectations. I’ve only been on the line for five years (will be six by February I think), so my prospects are bleak. This is causing me a lot of anxiety, especially as mom keeps stressing me about it. Your average Asian/Muslim girl perhaps does not face these kind of situations, which is why I have a hard time explaining my anxiety to people in our community. If you have a parental home, you’re pretty much set until you get married.

Anyway… every time I write something or tell someone about above issue, I get all of these useless suggestions from people. No offence, I know it sounds really rude, I mean people are trying to help after all… but one thing you should know about me is that I’m a solution-oriented person. Unless I’m actually asking for suggestions/advice, I don’t want it. If I know my readers right however, you’re still going to suggest things (just as whenever I tell you not to contact me personally every time I’m on a rant, to check up on me, you still do it). So let me stop you right there by telling you how these, which are suggestions I’ve already received and which undoubtedly will be the only suggestions you’ll end up giving me, won’t work for me:

  1. Why don’t you try getting a second-hand contract? I e renting someone’s apartment privately. Because I want a home of my own, not something temporary from where I’ll have to move out whenever the owner of the apartment wants me to. I don’t need anything temporary, we’re already staying somewhere.
  2. Why don’t you move abroad? Really? If you were looking to move out of your current home and you couldn’t find anything in your city, the first thought in your mind would be to move abroad? This is my country, my home. I’m not a temporary resident here. And also, how is moving abroad a much easier option than finding a place here??
  3. Why don’t you buy a place? First of all, I don’t have enough savings (actually I don’t have enough to call them “savings”). Secondly, housing prices are so high we’d  end up in the far outskirts of the city, probably not even close to a subway/train station. Buying something may be an option for later in life, or when I eventually might get married (yeah ok go ahead laugh), but right now it’s not possible for me.

There, I’m pretty sure I covered it all. Now please refrain from giving me suggestions. If you really care about me, please make du’a. Nothing is more precious and nothing will help me more. What has Allah not provided me with – so many things I never expected to get in life alhamdulillah.

Once again, because I know some of you have fingers itching for criticizing me – I’m not gonna say that it’s your fault for being offended, because I know I come across as harsh sometimes – please refrain from telling me off about how ungrateful I am. I honestly do appreciate all of you guys, especially those of you that comment (and please continue doing so!), but I’d rather receive a productive or empathetic comment than one where you’re trying to solve my problems.

And if you want to see a relatively less harsh side of me LOL, follow me on Twitter @AlohoNorah.

The Hopeless Search of a Swedish Muslim — October 12, 2016

The Hopeless Search of a Swedish Muslim

Opens Muzmatch. Let’s see what today has to offer. Eyes automatically look at the lower right corner: “Always prays.” Alright let’s look at the profile Bismillah. Holding breath. “Not willing to relocate abroad.”

Sigh.

Repeat.

I think I can safely state that it generally is not easy for Muslim women to approach men for marriage “in real life”. Muzmatch is definitely a safe space and the fact that it is so easy to use, especially for those leading busy lives, makes all other similar services dull in comparison. Yet for those of us not living in the UK or the US, it’s extremely hard finding suitable matches. Many of us women who do not take the brave step in marrying someone with a different ethnic background end up moving abroad, but that’s not an alternative for everybody.

During my search for Mr. Right, I’ve come across many who had no idea there were Muslims in Sweden, and “did I migrate here or am I born here?”. To be completely honest, this ignorance baffles me. There are Muslims and Asians all over Europe, and have been for ages – how is this news to some people? And no, not all of us migrated here in our adult lives; thousands of us were born and bred in countries all over Western Europe.

So many people find it difficult to find suitable matches in their vicinity – why not look abroad? What’s the worst that could happen? At the very least, you get to know about the cultures of other European Muslims. But writing restrictions on your profile like “UK/US citizens only please” feels highly discouraging – especially for those that are actually willing to move to the English-speaking superpowers. So many of the profiles suggested to me by the app show adventurous people that love traveling, yet marrying someone from a different place is not an option.

Frustration level: skipping the cardio for a tube of Pringles because I ain’t finding him anytime soon.

This is not something exclusive for the Muzmatch app. Whatever app or website you use for these purposes, you’ll see that the majority of the users are clustered in certain areas of the world. That leaves the rest of us stranded, scattered all over the world in hopelessness. Add to that being a female over 25 (which aunty-wisdom claims as the expiry date for us), and your Google search history lists things like “how to get a cat if you’re allergic”.

I say enough is enough. Something needs to be done about this, and so this is my attempt in highlighting us – Muslims, Asians, etceteras, living in other parts of Europe – maybe by reading this little post you will widen your search filters and at least read some profiles and see what the world has to offer.

Opens Muzmatch. “Always prays.” Alright Bismillah…

 

Ignominy — July 18, 2016

Ignominy

There are people my age – people I’ve grown up with – that are already having their second kid. And here I am as time goes by, not getting any younger, wondering what I’ve done wrong and more importantly; what exactly I should do in order to find a husband. It feels like I’ve exhausted my options and am basically just sitting here completely clueless. I told you guys about my reason for wanting to get married… and it needs to happen soon because the pressure from my family is driving me crazy.

I honestly don’t know what to do anymore.

Previously… marrying outside Sweden was an option. But I’ve only just got a new job, my first job after studies are over, and leaving all of this for an insecure future is not an idea my heart is in.

I just don’t know what to do.

Maybe I haven’t made enough du’a.

I’m not gonna lie; I do feel sad seeing one couple after another announcing their big day on Facebook. It doesn’t make me jealous… just sad. And once again I’ve started to question what’s wrong with me. Let’s add age to all of that. You know what’s worse though? People younger than me fretting over the same thing.

Flubbergasted — July 6, 2016

Flubbergasted

Remember “Flubber”? That 1997 movie with Robin Williams in the lead? Actually not the movie, but the material Flubber. I was imagining how my life would be if it was a physical object, and that thing came to mind. A flowy, rubbery thing that’s difficult to grasp and basically has no determined shape.

There are so many things to process I don’t even know where to start. Isn’t life supposed to make more sense as you grow up (I see ya’ll shaking your heads and smiling)?

The last couple of days have been hard for me. People close to me expressed sentiments that hurt me a lot, and hurt me good. It led me to cry out to Allāh for help, and the help that came was something that only hovered in my wildest imaginations (i.e. the fantasies I don’t expect to come true).

After the Eid prayer today, I checked my phone and saw one missed call. I didn’t recognize the number. At first I thought sigh, not the trade union about my membership again! And then, fleetingly, a brush of what if it’s one of the universities where I’ve been on interviews? I called them up, and lo and behold, it was indeed one of those universities.

Oh dear… here goes… they said they were gonna call me on Friday, but today is Wednesday, and I can hear in the voice that it’s a no… a very polite, encouraging no. But then came a word. Because of the ensuing rush of emotions, I forgot which word it was. But one word made me eyes open up and my imagined rabbit ears bolt upright.

I got the job. Alhamdulillah.

First off, yes it’s a big deal. This is my first real job upon finishing my studies, so it’s a huge deal. But… I highly doubt it would’ve killed me if I didn’t get it. After all, I was totally prepared for a no.

What’s important is not the job per se in this particular situation…  it’s how Allāh responded to my dua, to my prayer. What I asked of Him was different. I haven’t really prayed that much for a job, to be honest. I asked Him to take me out of the situation I was in. And subhaan Allah how He responded! Way beyond my expectations! In such a way that I could barely contain my glee! Alhamdulillah. I didn’t even know how to thank Him subhaana wa ta’ala.

At that moment, I felt courage to deal with the situation with the people I’m in conflict with.

But then something else happens.

My brother, after hearing about my job, immediately talks to me about applying for a loan so I can buy a place of my own. Trust me, that is not a stress I need at this moment. I’ve got way bigger hurdles to deal with before that. Buying a house on my own before even getting married was never a part of my plan.

And then he says that him and my sister-in-law have been talking to a guy, that knows many guys… for marriage. And what type of guys? The kind I don’t want to marry! I’m not disclosing any details, don’t ask me.

The taste in my mouth got bitter. The joy of the job turning into extra-lactose-infused room temperature banana milkshake.

But as I got home… and started writing this piece… slowly it dawned on me. Sh. Omar Suleiman’s “Quran 30 for 30” series that I’ve been following this Ramadan, that in detail have explained how Allāh tests us, came to mind. Such a blessing from Allāh doesn’t come freely for the believer. The believer must work for it. That means, more tests. I’ve failed some of His tests before, so there is no room for failure now. I need to stay firm on His path and avoid falling into the traps that the dunya has set for me. When things are easy, when there is no hardship, we believe that compromising with our deen won’t cause any harm. And maybe at first it doesn’t. Maybe at first, everything is “going your way”. But then, all of a sudden, the blessing that He has given you can turn into a curse. Some consequences are reserved for the Hereafter, but much is also reserved for this dunya.

This is how I thank Him. By passing His tests. And He knows that initially, this may further cause arguments with the people mentioned. But if I don’t keep my priorities straight, I’ll forever be a loser.

O Turner of the hearts, make my heart firm upon Your religion.

Why I ACTUALLY Want to Get Married — July 2, 2016

Why I ACTUALLY Want to Get Married

I know I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but when I started blogging on WordPress several years ago, I was a different person. I’ve changed throughout the years, sometimes even from one month to another. Sometimes I’ve regressed, but maybe, in shaa Allāh, the overall trend shows progress. The reason I’m mentioning this again is because maybe most of my readers – or at least most of the people that comment and like on this blog – are from my “old circles” here on WordPress. Thus maybe, the nature of my present posts won’t be to your liking… as I’m not the same person you followed years back anymore. Therefore, please don’t feel forced to continue following this blog. The whole change, getting a new title and url etc, reflects who I am today. So yes, there are going to be a lot of Islamic elements in it. But if you’re cool with that, then I’m glad. Maybe, in shaa Allāh, some of my words may even inspire you.

So those close to me, or those following me on social med… actually most people that know me LOL, know that for some time now I’ve been trying to find a husband. They also know that I’m struggling as there are so few Bengalis where I live – and even less practicing Muslim ones. Anyway… what I doubt anybody knows, is why it’s so important for me to get married.

In the beginning, it was all about having a soulmate: a partner in life, companionship, someone you could tell everything to and travel the world with. After a while, seeing my brothers and sisters-in-law with their sons etc, it wasn’t so much the husband as the whole concept of family that started to attract me. And I don’t mean in the “babies are so cute” sense (I’ve learned that they aren’t always. My nephews are quite a handful), I mean the whole package: a home, cooking, dinners together, day to day activities, dawats etc etc.

Eventually even that lost some of its significance, and what took its place is something much more profound and consequently something that makes it even harder for me to find a man.

I want to get married so I can reach Jannah.

In Islam,  marriage is said to be half our deen (and that’s without it being obligatory!). Your spouse may very well be your ticket to Jannah. Having someone who’s good-looking, or rich, or famous, will give you pleasure in this life; but having someone who’s pious, will give you eternal bliss in the Hereafter in shaa Allāh. And I’m a struggling Muslim. I had to learn a lot on my own and don’t have the luxury of a very practicing family with Islamic traditions at home etc. But I want it. I want a home that grows out of Islamic principles. Because I’m a struggling Muslim, the right kind of companion, I believe, will keep me on my toes. Because sometimes we need something tangible to help push us towards the spiritual.

The sad part about it is that as soon as I learned this, I realized that finding someone will now be ten times harder. But at the same time, I’ve quit despairing alhamdulillah. I make du’a to Allāh subhaanahu wa ta’ala for a husband as such, and in shaa Allāh when it is time, He will answer my du’a. In the meantime, I have other things to keep me occupied.

So the next time you hear me ranting about not finding a man – you know why!

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